IAM eating turkey and not seeing The Return of the King

As I type this, the whole episode is mercifully beginning to fade from my memory…

Perhaps not quite that bad. Yesterday was my research group’s christmas meal , which was at The Rose Bowl (warning, bad website). Unlike previous years, this was a sedate affair; no members of senior academic staff picked fights, passed out in the ladies’ loos, threw up in the gutter or injured themselves in the course of their homeward journeys. Shame. We’ll have to rely on the old anecdotes for a while longer.

One of the longstanding traditions (sadly missed last year, revived this year) is that of the entertainments organised by the lab management. In the past we’ve been subjected to a number of gameshow formats: Me and My Prof (Mr. and Mrs.), The Weakest Link, Who Wants To Be A Professor, and so on. The victims for these games aren’t warned beforehand, but are singled out by some predetermined means (coloured spots on placecards and so on).

This year’s gameshow was the venerable Blankity Blank, and the victims were myself and Hugo the e-scientist (WINOLJ, naturally). After some slight confusion over the method of selection (people were chosen based on which letters did not appear in their names. Three letters – A, E and T – were sufficient to whittle the numbers down to Hugo and I. Provided, that is, that I named myself ‘Nick’ and not ‘Nicholas’), the game began. The panel of celebrities more usually found on Blankity Blank were replaced by academics, and the set was cunning replaced with rather natty – yet functional – headgear.

After it was over, and clutching my consolation prize of an IAM picture frame and an AgentLink pen, I gratefully returned to my seat…

Post-meal, the group traditionally retires to a bar in Southampton until kicking out time. This year, some of us had different plans. Dr. Nick and Chris (WANOLJ) of totl.net fame were to meet up with (and a diverse assortment of her lackeys) at the Odeon to see Return of the King at 8pm. Got there with plenty of time and waited for , who had booked the tickets a week or so earlier.

She turned up, collected the tickets and handed them round. And then someone noticed the time on the tickets: 7pm. Oops. Now, isn’t the scatty sort – if she says that she booked the tickets for 8pm, then they were booked for 8pm. The Odeon’s staff were having nothing of the sort originally, claiming that she’d obviously (!) made a mistake. They finally relented and checked the booking system and found that she had in fact booked the tickets for 8pm. However, the seats had been reserved in the seat allocation system for 7pm (Chris apparently got into the auditorium and confirmed that there was a large block of empty seats in the earlier show). Could we get seats for the 8pm still? Not for all 14 of us (and possibly not even for any of us). So, with a refund and a vestigial apology, we retired to a pub to reflect on this.

Suffice to say that was really rather angry (the rest of us were a bit put out too). I was rather looking forward to seeing ROTK with that crowd, not least for the inevitable sotto voce comments…

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